Short Story Competition Winner - 'Parrot Line' by Sara Houston
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Short Story Competition Winner - "Parrot Line" by Sara Houston

Published on Tuesday, 30th June 2015
Filed under Competitions

The night was no different from any other. Scout, the playful young Senegal, was finishing off her supper of toast and palm nut oil.

Crumbs were flying all over the place, even sticking to the walls.

"Ey, Ey, Ey" (her attempt at "hey") she chanted happily. Laughing, I shook my head and wondered if she would ever pick up any other words.

She stepped happily onto my outstretched hand, leaning her head down for a scratch and clicking her beak softly as I carried her to her cage. Placing her on the highest perch, I wondered what she would dream about as her eyes fluted shut. Little did I know that I'd missed a sudden twinkle in her eye that night...the maverick in her was stirring.
I said my goodnights and left the room. As soon as I'd gone, her feathers flattened and, awake and playful, she swung from her perch to the door. In only a few moments she'd worked the lock and swung the door open. "Ey" she whispered quietly into the darkness of the night, a night that would give the little bird an adventure beyond her dreams.
In a city far away from the fluttering bird, the sweating man sat fidgeting in his seat, his brow shining under the bright lights of the television studio. He nervously removed his glasses and let out a long breath. The thought of a naughty Senegal swinging from the lampshade was the last thing on his mind right now, but their two lives were curiously about to cross.

He ran a slippery palm through his dark hair as he selected his final lifeline.
Back in the dark room, the little Parrot dangled by one foot from a shredded light shade, her neck twisting downwards at something that had piqued her attention. A glow lit up the room and simple jingle hummed softly. She flew the short distance to the table where the curious object was residing and pecked at a button.
"Hi Anna, you're on with Chris Tarrant from Who Wants to be a Millionaire. We've got Andrew here who, with your help, is all set to win 1 million pounds". The bird turned her head and blinked, enjoying the amusing noises coming from the large plastic object. It continued for a while as she sat bemused, considering whether to chew it or nudge it off the side of the table.
"So, the question is, 'If you planted the seeds of Quercus Robur, what would grow? A. Trees, B. Flowers, C. Vegetables or D. Grain?"
Her attention was drawn to the noise from the device suddenly ceasing.

Scout leaned down. "Ey," she chattered softly.
In his current state of near hysteria, the man failed to distinguish the difference between Parrot and person. He was on the verge of more money than he had known in his entire life. It was there to win, losing was not an option.
"A, are you sure?" he gasped desperately almost breaking the glasses he clutched in his hands.
"Ey, Ey" Scout squawked again, this time with more certainty.
"5 seconds" said Chris Tarrant.
The little Senegal continued to sqwak as the line clicked dead. She stopped, waiting for the other noise to begin again. Nothing. She quickly grew tired of this device that no longer made silly noises and attempted to nibble it. Growing bored of this, she then decided she'd much rather go back to shredding the lamp.
It wasn't until the following morning (about the time when I found a sleeping Scout fluffed up on the back of the sofa) that the runners on the show noticed their mistake.  A single digit had been incorrect- they had dialled the wrong number!

But as the tired creature yawned and chirped "Ey" happily at me, neither us were aware of how the Parrot Line had just changed someone's life. 

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